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Title: Vibhishana  
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Subject: Ramayana, Mandodari, Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Kelaniya, Saman (deity)
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King Vibhishana
Vibhishana as King of Lanka
Reign According to the puranas he became king after death of his brother Ravana, He also ruled in the time of Yidhistira
Predecessor Ravana
Consort Sarama
Issue Trijata
House Pulastya
Father Visravas
Mother Keśinī
Born Lanka
Died According to puranas he is immortal
Religion Hinduism

Vibhishana IAST: Vibhīṣaṇa or Bibhishan (Sinhala:විභිෂන) was a king who ruled what is part of Sri Lanka today and is also written about in the historical epic Ramayana. He was the younger half brother of the Rakshasa (demon) king Ravana of Lanka. Though a Rakshasa himself, Vibhishana was of a noble character and advised Ravana, who kidnapped and abducted Sita, to return her to her husband Rama in an orderly fashion and promptly. When his brother did not listen to his advice, Vibhishana joined Rama's army. Later, when Rama defeated Ravana, Rama crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka.

In some period of history Sinhala people have considered Vibhishana as one of the Four Heavenly Kings (satara varam deviyo).[1] This belief was more prominent in the Kotte period. According to the Ravana Katha of Wickramasinghe Adigar, after the defeat of Ravana, Vibhishana transferred the Yaksha capital from Alakamandawa to Kelaniya.[2] In the 15th century poem of Totagamuwe Sri Rahula, the sælalihini sandesaya, the Myna is ordered to carry the missive to Vibhishana at his temple in Kelaniya. After the 16th century he was replaced as a God of the four warrants by the goddess Pattini. He continues to be worshipped by a diminishing number of adherents, mainly in the Kelaniya area.[3]

In the Ramayana

Vibhishana meeting Rama

Vibhishana had a sattvic (pure) mind and a sattvic heart. From his early childhood, he spent all his time meditating on the name of the Lord. Eventually, Brahma appeared and offered him any boon he wanted. Vibhishana, said that the only thing he wanted was to have his mind fixed at the feet of the Lord as pure as lotus leaves (charan kamal). He prayed that he should be given the strength by which he would always be at the feet of the Lord, and that he would receive the darshan (holy sight) of Lord Vishnu. This prayer was fulfilled, and he was able to give up all his wealth and family, and join Rama, who was Avatar (God incarnate).

Vibhishana was the youngest son of Sage Vishrava, who was the son of Sage Pulatsya, one of the Heavenly Guardians. He (Vibhishana) was the younger brother of the Lord of Lanka, Ravana and King of Sleep, Kumbakarna. Even though he was born in the demon race, he was alert and pious and considered himself a Brahmin, since his father was intuitively such.

Due to Vibhishana's differences with Ravana because he was against the act of kidnapping Sita and most of all because Ravana wanted the throne for himself, he fled Lanka. His mother, Kaikesi, advised him to go and serve Shri Rama, who was at that time assembling an army to conquer Ravana and to recover Sita. He divulged the secrets of Ravana's army and made sure Rama ended up being victorious in the great battle. Lord Rama accepted Vibhishana's service and anointed him the Lord of Lanka after Ravana's death.

In the Lanka War, Vibhishana's knowledge about the secrets of Lanka proved invaluable to Shri Rama. Vibhishana freely divulged many secrets that became key to the success of Rama's attack, including revealing the secret path to the temple of Mata Nikumbala, the family deity of the Pulatsya Clan. Because of this, however, Vibhishana is also known as a traitor.

Rama and Sita worship god Shiva at Rameshwaram as Vibhishana (right) looks on with Lakshamana, Tumburu and Narada

While modern readers tend to view the Indian epics with eyes used to seeing clearly defined good and bad characters, the Ramayana's characterisation is trying to represent the practical implications of the concept of Dharma. The epic stresses that neither Vibhishana or Kumbhakarna strayed from the path of Dharma and that there is no single way out of a moral dilemma. The Ramayana teaches that Kumbhakarna adhered to the Dharma of loyalty to his kin when his advice fails, while Vibhishana chose to oppose his kin when his advice failed.

Symbolically, Vibhishana represents devotion to Shri Rama, and as a demon devotee, he shows that the Lord does not distinguish between his followers based on birth or circumstances in life. The same aught can be read in the story of Prahlada and Narasimha.

When Vibhishana attained the position of the King of Lanka, he turned his subjects from the path of evil to the path of Dharma(righteousness). His wife, Queen Sarama also aided him in this effort. He had a daughter named Trijata.

When Rama was about to leave Ayodhya at the end of his reign, Lord Rama in his original form of Shri Vishnu ordered Vibhishana to stay on earth and serve the people and guide them to the path of truth and Dharma. Hence, Vibhishana is considered one of the seven immortals, or Chiranjeevins. Lord Vishnu also ordered Vibhishana to pray the family deity of Rama's natal Sun Dynasty, Lord Ranganatha

In the Mahabharata

Vibhishana also plays a small part in the Mahabharata. Yudhisthira crowned himself as the Emperor of Indraprastha and began preparations for a Rajasuya sacrifice. He despatched his brother, Sahadeva to the southern kingdoms to subjugate the rulers to his authority and supremacy. Sahadeva's men reached the tip of the mainland, wherein Sahadeva stopped and sent his messengers to Vibhishana's kingdom. Vibhishana gratefully accepted Yudhisthira's authority and regarded it as "an act of time." He also sent diverse kinds of jewels, gems, pearls, celestial ornaments and costly apparel to Sahadeva and Yudhisthira.[4]


  1. ^ Kariyawasam, A.G.S. "The Gods & Deity Worship in Sri Lanka". The Wheel Publication No. 402/404, ISBN 955-24-0126-7, Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Dr. Mirando Obeysekere, Was Maya Dannawa the architect of Sigiriya?, Daily News, 6 March 2003.
  3. ^ Nandasena Ratnapala, Folklore of Sri Lanka, State Printing Corporation, Colombo, 1991; ISBN 955-610-089-X
  4. ^ "Mahabharata Text". 
Preceded by
King of Lankapura Succeeded by
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